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WVU Distinguished Speaker Series adds guest

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The Distinguished Speaker Series at West Virginia University's College of Business & Economics has landed a fourth, unanticipated guest — Joao Vale de Almeida, the European Union's ambassador to the United Sates.

He will address students and guests at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, in G-20 Ming Hsieh Hall at WVU in Morgantown.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for students, members of the university and the business community to have access to Ambassador Vale de Almeida," said Jose "Zito" Sartarelli, B&E Milan Puskar Dean. "The Ambassador will have unique insight on the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership, which is presently being negotiated between the EU and U.S. 

"The TTIP negotiations focus on removing trade barriers for a number of economic sectors, and discussions have centered on making it easier to buy and sell goods and services between the EU and U.S. Ambassador Vale de Almeida can speak to the impact of those negotiations on West Virginia and their strategic importance globally."

Since its inception in 2011 the speaker series has brought 22 highly successful individuals to WVU. The three previous events this year drew more than 2,000 spectators.

After his WVU appearance, de Almeida will continue on to Charleston, where he will meet with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and state economic development officials.

Born in Lisbon, Portugal, de Almeida has worked in his present role since August 2010. Prior to his appointment, he served as the director general for external relations at the European Commission, the European Union's executive body. As the most senior official under the authority of the High Representative/Vice-President Baroness Ashton, he helped formulate and execute the EU's foreign policy and played a key role in preparing for the new European External Action Service introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon.

From 2004 to 2009, de Almeida was the Head of Cabinet (chief of staff and main adviser) for European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, accompanying him to all summit meetings and ensuring coordination with the private offices of heads of state and governments in all 27 EU member states. He was also the president's personal representative for the negotiations on the Treaty of Lisbon.

He acted as the EU "Sherpa" for the G8 and G20 Summits, attending annual G8 Summits in Gleneagles, Scotland; St Petersburg, Russia; Heiligendamm, Germany; Toyako-Hokkaido, Japan; L'Aquila, Italy; and Muskoka, Canada, between 2005 and 2010 and assisting Barroso in the launching of G20 Summits in late 2008 in Washington as well as subsequent meetings in London, Pittsburgh and Toronto in 2009 and 2010. He also attended summit meetings with EU's strategic partners around the world.

Earlier in his career in the European institutions, de Almeida held several senior positions in the European Commission and the Economic and Social Committee and worked closely in different capacities with and under the authority of former Commission Presidents Jacques Delors, Jacques Santer and Romano Prodi. Before joining Barroso's team in 2004 he held a senior position in the Directorate General for Education and Culture after serving as Deputy Chief Spokesman of the European Commission.

Prior to joining the European Commission in 1982, de Almeida spent seven years as a journalist. He holds a degree in history from the University of Lisbon and has studied and received training in journalism and management in the United States, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom. In 2011, he received the ‘Grã-Cruz da Ordem do Infante D. Henrique' (Grand Cross of the Order of the Infante D. Henrique) from the president of the Republic of Portugal.